MDWFP Special Response Team using an airboat to help Jacksonians escape flood waters

MDWFP Special Response Team using an airboat to help Jacksonians escape flood waters

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The response to the Pearl River flooding has been an all hands on deck situation for many state and local resources.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Special Teams Unit was deployed to help Jackson police. That team is made up on officers from around the state.

A boat is the only way you’re able to get back to many parts of these Northeast Jackson neighborhoods now. The MDWFP Special Response Team has an airboat that makes that possible.

“This boat is driven by the force of that fan. So, we don’t have anything to tangle up any debris, any fencing, any cables or anything. We rode along past the flooded soccer fields off Westbrook Road," explained Special Response Team Commander Major Dale Bell. "The boat is able to speed up when it’s not near homes. But slows down as they approach the backside of the neighborhoods.

“Even in this air boat that leaves little wake," noted Bell. "We are at the slowest possible travel when we are around residences. That’s why we don’t want the public our sightseeing in boats, causing more damage.”

Initially, the officers were doing door knocks at the request of Jackson police.

“It cuts down on time and time saves lives," added Bell. "We knew who stayed and who left. And I think just the presence of us going around and making this door knocks is kind of like a ‘Hey, this is serious’ and so it went a long way.”

Now, they’ve shifted gears to doing everything from evacuations, to welfare checks and now patrols to deter looting.

"The last thing we need to do is someone to take advantage of these people have already lost a lot,” Bell noted.

Officers are working 12-hour shifts with 10 officers per shift so that someone is ready to respond to any issues around the clock.

There are 20 members of the Special Response Team who are currently in Jackson. Those officers are from all over the state and are deployed as needed for events and emergencies like this.

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